KCFD, ATF investigate cause of massive fire at furniture warehouse
Posted June 21
KANSAS CITY, MO — Firefighters are still on the scene, searching for the cause of a massive fire that destroyed a Kansas City furniture warehouse.
The only thing left of Friday's Only Furniture Outlet are the four walls, after fire tore through the building causing the roof and interior floors to collapse.
Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi says while this is an ongoing investigation, the cause of the fire remains undetermined, but investigators are satisfied that there was no suspicious activity prior to fire.
Up to 90 firefighters battled the massive fire at the three-story furniture warehouse located at 2915 Southwest Blvd.
Berardi says no one was inside the building when the fire was reported Tuesday afternoon. Emergency crews on scene said there were no dangerous chemicals inside the building.
"Friday's Only Furniture Outlet has a long history in the neighborhood and has occupied a building with an even longer history. The simultaneous loss of an established business that provides jobs in our community and a historic structure is indeed tragic and we do not minimize that loss. However, we are thankful that there were no injuries to civilians or KCFD crews and no damage to neighboring businesses or structures," Berardi said.
Fire investigators have started their inspection and are tasked with determining if the building is safe to enter.
Berardi says he doubts that crews will be able to go inside the building.
Smoke continues to rise from the building as fire crews remain on the scene, keeping an eye out for possible hot spots.
Crews do not think the fire will start up again but do want to keep smoke from spreading since the building is so close to Interstate 35.
The Kansas City Fire Department has joined forces with the United States Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to investigate the cause of the fire.
A fire protection system had been installed in the building but investigators plan to look into the integrity of the system.
Berardi said the structure had sustained roof and water damage from last Saturday's storm. Water damage related to the storm had already rendered the inventory a total loss, and determination of loss related to the fire will accordingly focus solely on the structure itself.
The chief says they're also looking at how the construction and the contents of the building helped the flames to spread so quickly.
"We definitely have a different kind of construction," Berardi said. "We have heavy timber construction here which certainly contributed to the fuel of the fire. And certainly, the ramped growth of the fire was due to the fire load in there and so we just have to take the investigation. We aren't expecting anything, we just want to conduct a thorough investigation to make sure we wrap it up."
One firefighter was taken to an area hospital on Tuesday as a precaution. He was released and is expected to be OK.
"I praise the first arriving fire crews and Battalion Chief, who made excellent tactical and strategic decisions to fight this fire defensively and stop this fire in the building of origin. The elevated heat index coupled to extreme radiant heat from the blaze made working conditions exhausting and potentially dangerous to firefighters," Berardi said.
Southwest Boulevard was shut down from 27th Street to 31st Street until about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday due to the fire.
Businesses and restaurants in the area will be open on Wednesday but fire officials urge people to not go near the warehouse.
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